Thursday, September 9, 2010

Recursive response to "Serving as a couple; reflections"

Yeah, I guess I haven't been pulling my weight these days, blog-ically speaking. I feel like unless I have something technical or expertise-related to contribute, it just becomes unnecessary word-vomit/literary masturbation (not usually a fan of censorship - pardon the language) and I don't really think my brand of such is particularly interesting, insightful or humorous. I feel like there are many people out there who are much better at this, and I would rather be reading theirs than projecting mine!

That aside, it's occurred to me that I could/should/might someday try to condense all of my thoughts about my singular situation here in Morocco in some written form for others to try to understand. I have a journal that I scratch stream-of-consciousness rants in once in a while, whenever I'm in the mood. But that only comes once or twice a month, if that. And most of these sessions end with no deep realization of anything significant; I get bored of bitching about my boredom into my boring journal and I stop writing, mid-sentence, and immediately move on to something else: doing pullups or filling up all of our water bottles or calculating the number of seconds until I can be employed legitimately or losing countless hours to pointless Facebook stalking or shopping online for random stuff I don't need. Or even staring at the interesting patterns of peeling paint on our bedroom ceiling! Believe me, the list goes on...

The crux of my problem here is summarized by that old phrase "Be careful what you wish for because it just might come true." One of my biggest reasons, initially, for wanting to become a Peace Corps Volunteer was to escape the career trap that I was in and segue myself (ourselves, really) into a new place, physically, career-wise, etc. Today, with 99 days left until we're back in America, I feel like I've put in the time to determine my career plans and how I will pursue them. Emily has done the same. We both have questions and uncertainties, but our directions are SOLID and more importantly, TRUE TO OURSELVES. We are so stoked about our future life it's not even funny. It's going to be so awesome. You're going to want to live our lives they're going to be just that good! And, I believe, we needed this 27-month experience to be able to change, grow, and "align" ourselves in this manner. Main mission accomplished. We got what we wished for.

The problem results from the fact that, theoretically, there is more to the Peace Corps experience than just the volunteer's personal growth. There's cross-cultural learning, and language learning, inspiration, socialization, cooperation, et al. Around the 9-month point (June of '09), I had gotten pretty much all I wanted to get via the Peace Corps "goals" and I had contributed all that I was able to contribute. Without getting into particulars and sounding too cliche and complainy, I was I still am. But I'm really not finished, because I'm still here in a place where I don't want to be. Problem.

(The lesson to be learned from this: make sure you're doing what you're doing for the right reasons. Think them through thoughtfully, because time-based commitments (especially 2 year ones) can dilate to seem like decades when you're constantly thinking about being somewhere else and doing something else.)

Getting back to the topic at hand will coast this prose to a close: "serving" as a couple (quotations because I don't really view my time here as service. I mean, who did I serve? Nobody really needs my service here! Moroccans get along just peachy in their context, in my opinion).

Despite our differences as PCVs, and my near-constant bitching and misery during the 6-to-16-month period in my service, I always respected Emily's wish to remain here and complete her service. I'd be so gone if it were not for her. This experience has proven to us that she's a stronger, more committed and dedicated person than I, and I would not be able to live with myself if I had caused her to end her experience prematurely. Period.

Thus, I will bite my lip, force my smile, and maintain until we are finished. I will try to be the best partner for her and support her the best way that I can, albeit as a vitamin D deficient agoraphobic. This is my current status; this is where I am mentally for all those curious folks out there. This is what my service has boiled down to. It's a strange mixture of emotions and random thoughts and I don't even think I'm explaining it very well. I don't really think I fully understand it even. It has to marinate a bit more, perhaps, before I'm able to grill it, chew on it, and glean from it the nuggets of wisdom that will tell me what it was all about.

But wait, there's more!!! If not for this difficult, trying, and LONG experience, perhaps I never would have been able to do all the aforementioned personal development...perhaps I never would have developed the great ideas, plans, and feelings about the hows and wherefores concerning my awesome future life (and it is going to be awesome, let me tell you).

So then it follows that all of my "misery" here was the price I paid to arrive mentally at this location...the staging point for the rest of my life.

It's about at this point in my journal writing where I realize that I have no reason to be complaining and thus no real reason to be writing. So this is where my writing usually trails off into...


Nancy said...

Jon, thanks for sharing. I really did miss your take on things and your writing style. You did write blogs at the beginning and I really enjoyed them. Did you say be careful what you wish for? It hasn't been easy, no one said it would, You will survive and be better for it!


Anonymous said...

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Laurel said...

I came here looking for a potato tajine recipe and ended up reading this entry. It brought back a lot of memories. During my 1st year as a Health/San PCV, I wrote a daily whine column in my journal. Different focus, same feelings. I think the PC experience is one where you can absolutely hate parts of it and learn (hopefully) to love others. And there are many days when that 2.5 year commitment seemed endless. Like you, my first site didn't need me and frankly didn't want me. I will forever be grateful to my PCD for allowing me to transfer to a new/remote site (up past Dades Gorge) after my first year. Only after that move was I able to have the experience that I wanted - and needed. I know you discounted your personal development, but I think many of the RPCVs that I know - all of whom went to change the world - found out that most of the change was in ourselves, as trite as that sounds. Thank you for being so willing to discuss the not-so-pretty parts of the PC experience - it all needs to be said. Best of luck on your remaining time.
Laurel (PCV 95-97)

Jon said...

Thanks, Mr. Roosevelt. I guess I'll just use the internet in our house to illegally download music and software. Guess I'm making the best of it, huh?

KT said...

Hey there Jon, Just read this entry-and just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed it. Hearing how similar our feelings are about service and how different our experiences are. I am working MORE than at home I feel like....wanting to keep a journal, or blog, but not being able to find the time.
Enjoy the end of your service, you will miss it when its all over...and you have me wondering now...What are your future plans?!!?

Jon said...

Hey Katie! Glad you've enjoyed the post. I've stopped being self-conscious about the way I feel. That honesty is liberating, even if it's just me putting it out there in a blog.

Anyways, as strange as it sounds, I want to become an electrician. Looking holistically at myself, I've learned that this direction is one of many that appeal to several needs/wants about myself:

1) I need to learn. If I'm not mentally engaged in what I'm doing, I get bored.
2) I understand math and physics really well, and would like to use that knowledge on a daily basis.
3) I enjoy fixing things, learning how things work, and mastering knowledge, especially science-related stuff.
4) I want to use my hands
5) I don't want a sedentary job.
6) I want a job that is in demand in a growing field.

It took me living in a foreign country for 2 years to come up with these criteria, but I'm better off for it, honestly. Being at Kaman's for so long kept me aloof and lazy about the possibility of personal growth. I'm really looking forward to getting back and starting anew!